Vehicle Wrapping

How to choose the right printer for vehicle graphics

by Rob Fletcher | 30/01/2024
How to choose the right printer for vehicle graphics

When it comes to high-impact applications such as vehicle graphics the choice of printer is hugely important. Here, Rob Fletcher speaks with two leading manufacturers about what print companies should be looking for when investing in new technology.

Whether it is a large run of graphics for an entire fleet of vehicles, or a bespoke wrap for a private customer; attention to deal and ensuring the design ‘pops’ is critical when it comes to vehicle graphics and wraps.

The core aim of graphics on vehicles is to catch the attention of passers-by, be it while out on the road or while parked up. Delivering impactful print in terms of colour and end quality will go a long way in ensuring the graphics do exactly this.

To achieve this end goal, the print company producing the graphics need to have the right sort of kit in place. Putting it simply, going cheap or cutting corners during printing will put the final product in jeopardy.

So, what should print companies look for in a new printer that will be used to create vehicle graphics and wraps? FESPA.com investigates…

Caption: Shore Wraps, a vehicle wrap and livery specialist based in Scotland, purchased an Epson SC-S80600 to grow its business.

Increasing demand for wraps and graphics

First up to offer advice is Epson. Phil McMullin, head of sales for commercial and industrial at Epson UK, said Epson signage printers have seen continued success around vehicle wrapping for several reasons.

“We have noticed an increasing acceptance of solid colour films, such as matte black, blue, matte orange, pink, and green,” McMullin said. “There is also now more interest in textured finishes, such as carbon fibre, wood grain, leather, and brushed metal.

“Then there is the need for long-term protection of vehicle paint, with this helping increase popularity in heavy-duty, light-duty, and medium-duty vehicles. In addition, there is the low cost of vehicle wrapping compared to vehicle paint; this is helping increase demand.”

As for the sort of work printers and wrappers should be looking to target, McMullin said that businesses keen to create promotional advertisements and consumers personalising their vehicles remain core markets. He noted that the latter includes changing the original colour of a vehicle.

“A colour wrap change is less expensive than a paint job and lasts an average of three to seven years,” he said. “It keeps the manufacturer’s original paint, can be removed with ease, and retains the resale value.”

So, what should printers be looking for in a new machine? McMullin goes as far as to say that a quality printer should deliver “outstanding photographic print quality”, as well as durability, and media compatibility. He said it should also be able to ensure colour accuracy – even on reflective substrates.

As to what Epson has on offer, a popular choice among wrappers is the 64-inch Epson SC-S80600 from the Epson SureColor S Series. This model features a combined precision media feeding system and Dual-Array PrecisionCore TFP print head, which McMullin said supports enhanced productivity. Its uses Epson UltraChrome GS3 nine-colour solvent ink, including a red solvent along with the option for white or metallic silver inks.

Then there are Epson’s first resin ink large-format printers in the Epson SC-R5000 and SC-R5000L. Both offer colour matching consistency, quick drying and scratch resistance.

Caption: 
Shore Wraps used its Epson SC-S80600 to produce a wrap for a Lamborghini, which was entered into the 2023 Cannon Run luxury driving experience.

Colour and quality

The proof of printer quality is very much in the pudding, with Shore Wraps, a vehicle wrap and livery specialist based in Scotland, one company that can attest to the quality of Epson machines. The company purchased the Epson SC-S80600 to expand its solutions offering and meet increased business opportunities following a move into larger premises.
 
Purchased from Epson UK supplier Perfect Colours, the Epson SC-S80600 has already been put to use on a range of projects. First off the line was a wrap for a Lamborghini, which was then entered into the 2023 Cannon Run luxury driving experience.

“The client came to us a few months prior wanting to print on non-printable satin pearlescent film,” Shore Wraps managing director Chris Williams said. “We suggested they hold while we waited to get the 80600 installed. Fortunately, they did, and they were very happy with the results.

“The new system makes all the difference. The results are vibrant, it gives branding more life and we have complete confidence in its ability to accurately recreate our vivid designs.”

Capitalising on potential and prospects

Another manufacturer that works with wrappers is Roland DG. EMEA product manager Mark Elvidge said Roland DG, sees this sector as “dynamic” with a “thriving nature”, characterised by a steadfast demand for durable vehicle wraps.

This assessment aligns with the broader industry trend, as reflected in the global automotive wrap films market, which attained a valuation of $5.8bn in 2022 and is anticipated to experience a robust compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 22.2% from 2023 to 2030, according to Grand View Research,” Elvidge said. “These estimated figures underscore the significant potential and prospects that the vehicle graphics market holds.”

Leading on from this, Elvidge sets out some of the work wrappers should be targeting. At present, he said demand spans from single colour vinyl for vehicle colour changing or paint protection to sponsor logos or branding for sports teams, fleet graphics, and full vehicle wraps for smaller enterprises.

“Businesses, especially in the transport industry, are actively seeking visually appealing and durable solutions to reinforce their brand identity on their vehicles,” he said. “Therefore, wrappers should position themselves to offer a comprehensive suite of services, from decals to complete vehicle wraps, to cater to a broad spectrum of client needs. catering to the needs of all clients - no matter how big or small.”

Elvidge said partnering with a manufacturer like Roland DG is the next step in helping print shops achieve this potential. With this he spoke about some of the solutions available from the manufacturer.

First, he said devices such as the TrueVIS VG3-640 eco-solvent printer is ideal if wrapping is incorporated into a wide range of other applications provided. However, if production levels are higher or faster turn-around from instant dry and finishing are required, then the TrueVIS AP-640 resin printer offers excellent benefits to wrapping professionals.

Caption: 
Roland DG says current
demand spans from single colour vinyl for vehicle colour changing or paint protection to sponsor logos or branding for sports teams, fleet graphics, and full vehicle wraps for smaller enterprises

“The ecological, water-based ink, long life printheads and True Rich Colour pre-sets, ensures the production of natural and vibrant prints while maintaining the characteristics of the base media,” Elvidge said.
 
“The AP-640 stands out for its immediate finishing capability and exceptional colour stability, achieved through a blend of high-gamut inks and precise dot placement from long-life, variable dot size printheads. In contrast to competitor devices with single dot size consumable heads, the AP-640 maintains colour accuracy and repeatability over time, without colour shift due to printhead degradation.

“Lamination strength is also a key feature of the AP-640, evidenced by prints exhibiting exceptional adhesive bond strength with laminate film, ensuring robust and durable results. Impressively, prints laminated immediately after printing show no change in condition over a six-month period, even under challenging conditions like high temperatures for prolonged periods - a factor essential for vehicle wrapping, as wraps often experience heavy exposure to the elements.”

Epson and Roland DG are just two manufacturers that wrappers can partner for this type of work, with others out there also waiting to help. Once again this year, the FESPA Global Print Expo will showcase some of the best wrappers in the business by hosting the grand final of the 2024 World Wrap Masters.

Watch the best wrappers in the world compete against one another to win the title of World Wrap Masters of 2024 at the World Wrap Masters Final 2024. Competitors will be judged on their precision, application, detail, creativity, and coverage, on vehicles and mystery objects. Register here to visit and watch the competition from 20th – 21st March 2024 at FESPA Global Print Expo 2024 at the RAI Amsterdam in Netherlands. Use promo code FESJ402 to receive a 30 euros discount.

by Rob Fletcher Back to News

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